WASHINGTON – Metro’s general manager advises all Red Line riders to travel outside rush during the tenth “safety surge,” which started last weekend.
It involves shutting down two stations and reduced service until the week of Thanksgiving.
Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said the Red Line is the oldest in the system has the most riders.
He said Metro maintenance is decades behind, and Metro needs to make repairs and completely replace a crossover because problems will continue to worsen over time.
“We’re eliminating other things that are really bad,” Wiedefeld said. “It’s not as clear as opening a new station… Infrastructure that supports it will be strong for years.”
Rider experience on the Red Line due to SafeTrack during SafeTrack varies by person.
George Washington University student Lorena Tapias, also a Rockville resident, changed her route for the tenth SafeTrack project: rather than starting at Glenmont Metro Station, she boarded the train at Rockville Station to avoid the shutdown.
“This adds 30 minutes to my commute,” Tapias said.
She said SafeTrack is inconvenient and costs her more money for gas so she can drive to Rockville Station.
Scott Geibel, a Rockville resident, said SafeTrack did not make him late to work on Monday, but if it had, he would not be punished for lateness because he is “senior enough” in his position.
“That adds more to my comfort and less to my stress, as far as SafeTrack is concerned,” said Geibel, who conducts health research for a non-government organization, while he was waiting at the Rockville Station platform Tuesday morning.
SafeTrack 10, slated to result in a loss of 200,000 daily passenger trips, is supposed to have the greatest decrease in ridership due to decreased service.
Wiedefeld said workers will repair concrete ceilings of one station and replace an entire crossover and several switches, among other repairs.
They are set to repair the concrete that has been falling, or spalling, off Rhode Island Avenue Station.
Crews installed nets to the station ceilings and bus shelter to catch any debris that might fall. That move came after debris fell from the mezzanine ceiling twice, 40 feet apart, nearly two months ago.
More debris has fallen since workers installed the nets, Wiedefeld said.
The general manager said some holes that formed in the nets show the nets are working because they caught pieces of debris that fell after workers installed the nets.
“We really are talking about a very, very old station,” Wiedefeld said the debris.
Management shut down the station Aug. 31 after concrete and a metal bracket fell once for repairs and evaluation, and closed the station after the station manager reported more concrete fell.
Metro shut the station down over the weekend so outside engineers could conduct visual inspections and workers could repair the station. Metro added these structural concerns to the SafeTrack project.
Metro officials said employees operate trains at slower speeds when traveling on the track that surrounds Rhode Island Avenue Station due to structure issues of the elevated station.
Metro will close the Brookland- Catholic University of America and Rhode Island Avenue stops for the duration of the “safety surge,” Wiedfeld said.
Trains will operate in two segments:
· From Shady Grove to NoMa-Gallaudet University Station, Metro will operate 50 percent fewer trains, resulting in longer wait times and extreme crowding on trains and in stations.
· Trains will operate from Glenmont to Fort Totten every 10 minutes if there are no delays.
From Saturday until Nov. 22, including three work weeks plus a Monday and a Tuesday, riders will not be able to travel by rail between these stations on the Metro around the clock.
Riders traveling through the district can take the Green Line train from Fort Totten Station to Gallery Place-Chinatown Station during the “safety surge.”
RideOn will provide a free shuttle between the shut down stations, according to the Montgomery County transportation director.
Al Roshdieh, Montgomery County Department of Transportation director, said he is confident county residents will use alternatives to Metro, based on how much ridership decreased during the sixth and seventh “safety surges.”
“We’ve seen quite a bit of results,” Roshdieh said.
Wiedefeld said workers will have to make more repairs to the station after the “safety surge” is over.
“We won’t be completely caught up (after surge 10),” Wiedefeld said.
The tenth SafeTrack project will result in a loss of 200,000 daily weekday passenger trips, the most severe ridership reduction of the SafeTrack program, Wiedefeld said.
On Oct. 26, Wiedefled, the director of the Montgomery County and D.C. departments of transportation and D. C. Mayor Muriel Bowser urged riders to seek alternatives during SafeTrack and to avoid traveling during rush hour by adjusting their work schedules or working from home.
An increase in the number of vehicles on the road will make drivers’ commutes longer.
D.C. Transportation Director Leif Dormsjo encouraged drivers to be safe while commuting because a wreck could create major delays on the roadways that will already be clogged in D.C. and Maryland.
“Even on non-surge days (drive safe), but during this surge, we want you to really (focus) on that,” Dormsjo said.
The purpose of SafeTrack is to perform track repairs and to address safety recommendations by agencies such as the Federal Transit Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, according to the general manager.
Wiedefeld compressed a schedule of long-term maintenance and repair projects from three years into one year, however he said Metro will have track work requiring single-tracking and line segment shutdowns remaining when SafeTrack ends.